We were in English class at Our Lady of Sorrows High School in Farmington, MI. The PA went on, which rarely happened, and our principal asked us to pray for the president, that he had been shot.
He was the 1st Catholic president so we felt a special kinship with him. I thought he had been wounded but not mortally. I expected that later that day we would hear that he was in the hospital recovering from his wound(s), he was so young and vital.
I couldn’t imagine someone shooting him, that happened to presidents in the 1800’s, not the 1960’s.
I was 16 years old, and we lived in a small suburb of Detroit in a subdivision where most of the families were Catholic -very sheltered and parochial. A half hour later when word came that President Kennedy had died I couldn’t believe it.
How could that be? He was so young, so good looking, had such a beautiful family, he was Catholic, this could not be happening.
When the words sunk in there was an audible gasp from everyone in the room. That night we were glued to the TV, watching the replays of the film available to CBS and Walter Cronkite. It was seared into my memory. Then Sunday, just as I walked into the house from Mass with my best friend we saw Lee Harvey Oswald shot to death on live TV. Was this the Twilight Zone? Suddenly the world seemed much more scary, much more out of control. There were so many tears, so much anger that weekend.
Watching TV with a tissue in your hand near your mouth because it was so bizarre and sad. Then the days leading to the funeral, Mrs. Kennedy looking so sad and lost, the little kids so cute. TV was never the same again, this whole tragedy came into our home via television, we were voyeurs.
We stayed home the day of the funeral and watched everything, crying so much, John-John’s salute, the rider-less horse with the boots backward in the stirrups, the procession. So much life over so quickly, Camelot to catastrophe on a Friday afternoon.